The leaders of some of the world’s wealthiest democracies assembled in the Bavarian Alps on Sunday, where the 48th G7 Summit takes place from June 26 to June 28. The summit kicked off with a series of bilateral meetings on Sunday, before the bloc’s leaders will jointly discuss the most pressing global issues on Monday. That includes the Russian invasion of Ukraine, surging food and energy prices, Covid-19, the world economy as well as the climate crisis at a time not short on global challenges.
While the Group of Seven, as the G7 is officially called, still claims a global leadership role, experts are questioning the bloc’s relevance against the backdrop of a rapidly evolving global economy. In 2018, Jim O’Neill and Alessio Terzi wrote that the G7, “in its current formulation, no longer has a reason to exist, and it should be replaced with a more representative group of countries.” They called for a revised G7 group, which would replace Germany, France and Italy with a common Eurozone representative, swap Canada for Brazil and most importantly add China and India, making it more representative economically and in population terms without adding more seats to the table.
As the following chart shows, the G7 countries currently represent 43 percent of the world economy, down from nearly 70 percent three decades ago. In terms of population, the bloc is even less representative, with its member countries accounting for less than 10 percent of the world’s people, according to latest estimates from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). Despite these numbers, proponents of the G7 think the group still has value. “It’s sort of a manageable steering group of the West,” Stewart M. Patrick, Senior Fellow in at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) says. “They’re a repository, an embodiment of common values and a similar rules-based approach to world order.”